Comic Book / Warlord of Mars

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Variant cover of 2014's John Carter: Warlord of Mars

Warlord of Mars is the comic book adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars book series, published by Dynamite Comics since October 2010. The comics told the story of Civil War veteran John Carter who ends up mystically being mystically transported to the red planet of Mars. Not only is there sentient life in Barsoom (as Mars is called by its inhabitants), he discovers he is stronger and faster because of the planet's lighter gravity rendering his body much hardier. In this bizarre new world, Carter faces many adventures, falls in love with a beautiful Red Martian princess and faces arduous battles to win her hand and protect her, as well as his adoptive world.

The comics were notoriously faithful to its source material and among the most popular among Dynamite readers, given the time the first volume ran and the sheer number of spin-offs created from it. This was, in spite of an lawsuit that happened in the early 2012 when Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc., the family-owned company of John Carter's creator sued the publisher over trademark infringement, though the matters were amicably settled in 2014. Unusually, the lawsuit did very little to affect the comic's publishing over the course of its run, and after the issue was resolved, Dynamite and the ERB estate have worked together to relaunch the series in that same year.

The comics also created plenty of original content about the Barsoom mythos, most of which focusing on Carter's love interest Dejah Thoris, who received several spin-offs surrounding her as one can see in the list below, and became one of Dynamite's flagship characters, perhaps more so than the actual protagonist. The Barsoom comics are as follows.

List of Publications
  • Warlord of Mars (2010-2014) - Regular series. Adapted the first three books in the Barsoom series: A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars and Warlord of Mars. Lasted for 35.
  • Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris (2011-2013) - Regular series that ran for 35 issues, served as a prequel detailing Dejah's life 400 years before she met Carter.
  • Warlord of Mars: Fall of Barsoom (2011) - 5-issue long miniseries that took place in the distant past of Barsoom detailing the fall of its ancient civilization.
  • Dejah Thoris and the White Apes of Mars (2012) - Limited miniseries taking place between Princess and Gods.
  • Dejah Thoris and the Green Men of Mars (2013-2014) - Originally scheduled as a 6-issue miniseries, it was prolonged to a 12-issues long.
  • Warriors of Mars (2012) - 5 issue long crossover with Gullivar of Mars
  • Lords of Mars (2013-2014) - 5 issue long crossover with Tarzan
  • Dejah of Mars (2014) 5 issue miniseries focusing on Dejah in her quest to rescue John who has been captured.
  • John Carter: Warlord of Mars (2014-2015) - A relaunched regular series, published in the aftermath of ERB Inc.'s lawsuit and made with their approval that ran for 14 issues.
  • Dejah Thoris (2016) - Originally intended as a regular series focusing on Dejah, it was cancelled at 6 issues.
  • Swords of Sorrow (2015) - A Crisis Crossover featuring Dejah, Red Sonja and Vampirella.
  • Pathfinder: Worldscape (2016) - A Massive Multiplayer Crossover featuring other licensed characters from Dynamite such as the main cast in Pathfinder, Tarzan, Red Sonja as well as characters from public domain.
  • John Carter: The End (2017) - A series that takes place in the distant future showing a aged John and Dejah living in exile after a tyrant has overthrown them and they are both grieving over their son's death. But something happens that brings them back into action.


This comics provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • The Dynamite Comics fleshes out some of the character's backstories on what their life was like before the books took place. The first two issues in Vol. 1 shows Tars Tarkas' backstory intertwined with John finding his way to Mars.
    • Its revealed that the Green Martians were created by the Okarans as battle drones through interbreeding between apts, white apes and Red Martians and they could be controlled mentally by their creators.
  • Adaptational Badass: Dejah Thoris, hands down. She gets upgraded from a Princess Classic that got regularly kidnapped into a more proactive Action Girl. She also had much increased focus in the comics than she does in the books, as she faded into the background in later installments after the first one.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Phaidor gets a load of this. While she follows the same path as her book counterpart, she is portrayed more sympathetically, helps John Carter in certain instances, defends Dejah Thoris from her father and admits that she will never earn Carter's love before him, all of this happens much earlier than in the books, where she doesn't reform until the very end.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • The Yellow Martians who assist John Carter in Warlord of Mars. In both the comics and the books, they assist Carter into infiltrating Salensus Oll's city and they take control of it after his death. In the following story arc in the comics, its revealed that they have aspirations of conquest, conspiring to turn the Green Martians against the rest of the Barsoomians and breed a race of mutant servants to take over the planet.
    • Tardos Mors is the proud, virtuous and benevolent Jeddak of Helium... Until Tyrant of Mars rolls out, where he turns into a Evil Overlord bent on an genocidal campaign against the polar races of Barsoom after he comes back to life. Subverted when its revealed that is actually a double created by a evil White Martian spirit and the real Tardos is dead.
    • Ras Thavas, who was a merely morally ambiguous in Synthetic Men of Mars but reforms at the end of the book, is made into an villain that planned to clone Dejah and John and replace them with his creations so he could rule Helium through his puppets.
  • Alien Invasion: Some took place - the second series opens up with Mars being invaded by aliens lead by an human just like Carter. Dejah Thoris prequel has her thwarting an attempted invasion by vampire aliens from Saturn. And at least in one possible Bad Future, this trope is inverted when Mars is invaded by Earth forces.
  • Androcles' Lion: John saves a White Ape, of all things, from falling down the mountain even though it tried to chase and devour him. The ape returns the favor by saving him from Kahori invaders.
  • The Alliance: John Carter formed one after becoming Warlord of Mars called "The League of Barsoom".
  • Artifact of Doom: The Sword of Barsoom is seemingly this, being able to corrupt anyone who holds it and is said to give absolute power over the planet. Turns out its just a normal sword with a gem that radiated negative psychic energy that makes anyone near them paranoid or aggressive, or submissive if weak-willed enough.
  • Bad Future:
    • One alternate future seen through time-travel shows Barsoom colonized and occupied by Earth forces, many races have been enslaved and only the last descendant of John Carter resist against them. Ironically, the invaders deprived themselves the opportunity to be superhumans like him since they have thickened the atmosphere density in Barsoom during their terraforming process.
    • The distant future in John Carter: The End also qualifies.
  • Battle Couple: Dejah and John, so very much. Specially in the 2014 series.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
    • Talu. He appears like a honorable and just man that rebelled against his cruel uncle and wanted to rule fairly. He reveals rebelled against him in the first place because the Yellow Martians are destined to rule all of Barsoom, not to say hidden from the rest of the world like Oll wanted..
    • Jagati Khen in Lords of Mars presents himself and the Therns to Lord Greystoke as a noble civilization being oppressed by Red Martian savages lead by the tyrannical John Carter.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Xerius engineers a genocide against the White Martians despite being originally one himself - he is now a bodiless spirit possessing the body of a Red Martian, namely Tardos Mors.
  • Cain and Abel: Dejah Thoris and her insane brother Kajak Thoris.
  • Canon Foreigner: Many new characters are introduced in the original storylines.
  • Children Forced to Kill: Dejah's most vivid memory is killing a Green Martian at the age of eight to save her mother Heru. Unlike most examples of this trope, which are played for tragedy or horror, it was a moment of triumph for her as she embraced her birthright as a Princess of Helium.
  • The Conspiracy:
    • The second half of Dejah Thoris and the Green Men of Mars deals with one among radical Tharks that want to secede from Helium.
    • Savages of Mars in the main series deals with another one involving Green Martians' sudden violent bouts.
  • Contemptible Cover: Standard for Dynamite; many issues have covers featuring Dejah when her role is minimal or non-existent. It happens mostly on the original main series however.
  • Continuity Lockout: More prevalent in the second volume of the imprint, where several references and continuity nods to the original books that haven't been adapted to the comic format.
  • Crossover:
    • Lords of Mars is one between Carter and Tarzan.
    • Warriors of Mars is one where he meets Lieutenant Gullivar Jones.
    • Swords of Sorrow is an all-female encounter focusing on Dejah Thoris, Red Sonja and Vampirella.
    • Pathfinder: Worldscape is probably the largest one with Dynamite-licensed properties with aforementioned Tarzan and Sonja, as well as the main cast in Pathfinder and several public domain characters.
  • Darker and Edgier: For the most part, some of the comics emulated the Planetary Romance aspect from the books. Later miniseries like Green Men of Mars are much more darker and grimmer featuring Torture Porn and conspiracies. The main characters are also made much more violent and ruthless.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Dejah's father and grandfather die offscreen while rebelling against the Yellow Martians. In the books, they survive and return to Helium safely. Subverted when Tardos Mors apparently returns to live, but its Double Subverted when revealed that it was merely a copy.
    • Matai Shang dies in the comics much earlier at the hands of Salensus Oll whereas in the books, he is offed by Thurid instead.
    • The Big Bad in Skeleton Men of Jupiter was a Karma Houdini as a result of Author Existence Failure, but he dies in one special issue that more or less serves as sequel/conclusion to the book.
  • Depending on the Artist: Several story arcs shift artists very frequently, sometimes between issues in the same arc. The change can be very jarring to say the least.
  • Dude Magnet / Hello, Nurse!: Dejah Thoris in spades. You know she is this when she manages to attract males from highly xenophobic species!
  • Enemy Mine: Linea offers to help the heroes in stopping her father, the mad high priest of Issus out to destroy life on the planet. She makes a point that she dislikes the Red Martians, and is only helping them to ensure a future for her people.
  • Evil Counterpart: Joshua Clark in the relaunched series. Both are American Civil War veterans who fought on opposite sides during the conflict, ended up among alien and rose up to become their supreme leaders. Whereas Carter is a diplomatic and benevolent ruler, Clark is a planet-conquering warmonger. Both even shares the same initials to drive the point home even further.
  • Fallen Hero: Xerius, once a proud White Martian defender who fought valiantly alongside his beloved Xaraya. After her death at the hands of the First-Born and the Okarans and having his own consciousness trapped inside crystals that kept him alive for thousands of years, he grew absolutely heartless and cruel. While masquerading as Tardos Mors, he replaces John Carter as Warlord of Mars, employs the vicious Warhoons as his enforcers, instigates a genocidal campaign against not only the Black and Yellow Peoples, but his own people as well, reducing them to slaves whom he has 10% killed for no good reason, except spite and disgust. He still thinks himself as a savior, however, as he justify his actions as liberating the Red and Green Peoples who have been oppressed by polar races for millenia.
  • Fan Disservice: The series is notorious for its Fanservice that goes both ways, but also had... These moments.
  • Fantastic Racism: Really prevalent. The Red Martians suffer it worst of all since they are on the receiving end of every other Martian race on Barsoom, who use them as nourishment and/or slave labor. And not even these races can stand each other too. Martian racial tensions are almost as bad as Nirn's.
    • The White and the Black Martians suffer a bad case of A God Am I and Master Race and prey on both Red and Green Martians, relying on slavery of these lesser people for nearly everything, except warfare. Even the Therns themselves are preyed upon by the First-Born, who regularly raid their lands and kidnap their women.
    • While the Yellow Martians are a very reclusive people, they are revealed to be mortal enemies with the Green People, for it was they who drove out the Yellow People of their lands and retreat into the North Pole. The Yellow Martians of Kadabra, who explicitly practice slavery, are said to use rebellious Reds as baits for savage beasts.
    • The Green Martians have also been bitter enemies to the Reds, as they are the two most populous and prominent race on the planet. They are the first people to reach a truce after John Carter arrived.
  • A Fate Worse Than Death: Green Men of Mars has a radical cult of Tharks that refuse to make peace with Red Martians kidnap their women to serve as food. They imprison the women inside am dungeons where they have their limbs and organs removed slowly. Dejah very nearly suffers the same fate, and even though she escapes physically unscathed, she was severely traumatized and mentally scarred by these events.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Any prequel series or interquel that takes place before / between the original trilogy will always spare Dejah, Tardos, Mors and Kan Kantos, since their later appearances requires them to survive.
  • Generation Xerox: Dejah Thoris is the spitting image of her mother Heru, both of them are princesses renowned for their beauty, were romantically involved with Earthmen and where occasionally made Distressed Damsels, but kicked butt when it was needed.
  • Grand Theft Me: The Boora Witch attempts to take over Dejah's body.
  • He Knows Too Much: The conspirators in Savage of Mars took extreme measures to silence Salensus Oll's concubines after one of them blew the whistle about who was behind the Green People's violent bursts. In fact, had her not warned the heroes about it, they would likely never had figured it out.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: In an alternate future, humans have invaded Mars, driven entire species to extinction and enslaved its population. When Dejah travels into their time period, they quickly find the time portal and declare its intent to reshape the timeline to their will, without considering the consequences.
  • Interspecies Romance: Not just between John Carter and Dejah Thoris, but the comics contains other original examples:
    • Her mother Heru had a brief, ill-fated love story with Earthman Gullivar Jones.
    • In Green Men of Mars, there is a marriage between a male Thark and a female Red Martian.
    • Dagur Andalust (a Vathek) falls in love with Dejah (a Red Martian) and offers to make her his vampire bride. Unlike most villains, he sacrifice himself to destroy his fellow Vathek and save her.
    • Carthoris (a human/Red Martian hybrid) has a few Ship Tease moments with Linea (a First-Born princess). Even his father encourages the relationship pursuit, despite their peoples being recently at war, possibly to secure peace between them. Sadly, they don't go farther than this with Linea's death.
    • Thurid (a First-Born), Matai Shang (a Thern) and Salensus Oll (a Okarian) all become madly attracted to Dejah, once again. To the point, they will kill each other over who gets her for themselves. What makes this particularly egregious is that their races are very xenophobic and supremacist that regard Red People as lesser savages, and in their particular case, its more like one-sided perverse lust than genuine romance.
    • Oll himself decides to make not just Dejah, but Thuvia (a Red Martian herself) and Phaidor (a Thern) his concubines too. Bad mistake as this ends up putting the women in a position to kill him while he is destracted.
    • Defied, when Carter suggests to a White Martian if his people have settled on Earth and interbred with the Scandinavians, who are commonly blonde-haired and blue eyed, which would explain the physical similarities between the two people. Said White Martian is freaked out by this and considers it akin to bestiality.
  • Karmic Death: Salensus Oll takes fancy to the female entourage of Matai Shang and arbitrarily declares they shall becomes his concubines and personally executed Shang for protesting. When Helium's fleet arrives, he has the women chained as his playthings, and after an explosion in the control room, they take the opportunity to gang up on him and shiv him to death with knives taken from his very belt. For extra karma, one of the women, Phaidor was Shang's daughter, and promptly avenged her father's death and her own humiliation by killing her captor.
    • Vush Tanzar sells out Helium, and by extension Barsoom, to alien invaders out to of pure jealousy for Dejah choosing Carter over him. She is the one to kill him by pushing him off a ship after the Kahori invasion is twarted.
    • The conspirator behind Savages of Mars Talu is executed in cold blood by Tars Tarkas after he horribly tortured the Thark warrior and threatened to destroy his people.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Killing someone while bound, on their knees and unable to defend themselves can be considered something very dishonorable for a Proud Warrior Race Guy like Tars Tarkas. Not so much when the victim is guilty of mindraping Tarkas and conspired to destroy his people.
  • Killer Space Monkey: The white apes are multi-armed gorilla-like monsters that frequently prey on the civilized peoples in Barsoom. Their viciousness is highlighted in the Dejah Thoris and the White Apes of Mars miniseries where the Helium princess and her ladies-in-waiting are trapped inside a ruin filled with these monsters that kills every single one of Dejah's friends.
  • Kissing Cousins: Before their heroic deaths, Xerius and Xaraya were a Battle Couple, as well cousins.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Linea, a First Born noblewoman that assist the heroes against her father, who is a mad high priest of Issus who wants to use a Doomsday Device to wipe out all life in Barsoom. Its revealed she is Issus' granddaughter, making her a Mad Goddess' Beautiful Granddaughter.
  • Master Race: The polar races on Mars regard themselves as superior to the Red People and the Green barbarians, as well as among themselves. Irony is that the White, Black and Yellow people are heavily reliant on enslaving these lesser people, who are most numerous, advanced and much more prepared to live on Barsoom. When the Red People go to war against them, the polar races are usually overwhelmed.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Most Martians men of humanoid races could count as male examples of Green Skinned Space Babes, but John Carter stands among them, due to also appearing completely naked at certain points, albeit with Hand-or-Object Underwear and Barbie Doll Anatomy.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Most Martian females are depicted very faithfully as described in the source material. Then there are the many nude variant covers...
  • Mystical White Hair: Phondari is a Black Martian with platinum blonde hair, which is unusual among her kind, who is black-haired.
  • Never Found the Body: We only hear word that Mors Kajak and Tardos Mors (Dejah's father and grandfather respectively) have been killed during a slave uprising, but their deaths were never shown onscreen. Though the later mysteriously returns to life, its later discovered a skull which might have belonged to the true Tardos, due to a diamond teeth he had in life, indicating that the real one is truly dead.
  • Noble Demon: Joshua Clark differs from many previous villains, that while a ruthless man driven by revenge, he has a wicked sense of honor; he is willing to show mercy to Dejah if she tells where is her husband, and not once tries to force himself on her. While he orders her execution when she attempts to escape and is unwilling to comply, he clearly laments being forced to do so. In the final duel between him an Carter, he declares that if Carter wins, then Clark's armada will abandon Barsoom's conquest and leave their world alone.
    • Lord Andalust, the vampire man from Saturn, is one of the few villains to fall in love with Dejah and redeems himself in the process.
  • No Name Given: The Kahori have no individual names.
  • Not Me This Time: The Therns are the first suspects behind the Green Martians' sudden violent bursts. The real culprits are the current Okaran rulers, the supposed friends to John Carter.
  • Not So Different: Talu the supposedly benevolent ruler that replaced the tyrannical Salensus Oll is revealed to be a power-hungry despot behind a conspiracy to destroy the Green People. Carter even calls him out on this, but Talu disagrees stating that Oll was content with hiding from the rest of the planet, while he wants to fulfill their destiny of ruling over their world.
  • Off-Model: It happens frequently, sometimes as result of changing artists, see Depending on the Artist. Many characters depictions vary widely, which leads to inconsistencies.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Shortly after Issus' demise, her high priest and son decrees that Barsoom shall not exist without her guidance and activates a Doomsday Factory, which will destroy the planet's atmosphere to kill everyone inside of it.
  • Once-Green Mars: In Fall of Barsoom, we see what Mars used to be before a natural disaster dried up the oceans and destroyed the atmosphere, just before the Orovar civilization fell.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The Vathek, aka the Vampire Men of Saturn. They were once a normal, peaceful race that was turned into bloodthirsty monsters after being exposed to a devastating plague. Sunlight is lethal to them, so they live in a land of perpetual darkness where the sky is covered with dark clouds and fumes.
  • People Farms: The Vathek preserve their Palidor slaves as blood bags to feast on.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Inevitably...
    • In the books, John takes a painfully long time to realize Carthoris is his son. In the comics, they recognize each other almost immediately.
    • Both male and female characters are described to be nude with only leather harnesses and jewelry to cover them. The comic avoids having to drawn any genitalia by having them wear a little bit of clothing.
  • Pirate Girl: Phondari, captain of the Hammer of Thuria.
  • Planet Looters: The Kahori from the relaunched series, are a race of warriors that invade planets, enslave their population, take their resources and move for the next one. They are in the process of invading Barsoom in the beginning of the volume.
  • The Quisling: Vush Tanzar to the Kahori invaders.
  • Really 700 Years Old / Immortality Begins at 20: Martians are very long-lived and might as well be immortal, according to Dynamite. Dejah Thoris, herself is at least 400 years old by the time she meets John Carter, given her prequel series takes place centuries before the books' events, yet she looks like she in her late 20s.
  • Red Shirt: Original characters created just for the comic that were not in the book tend to die horribly when accompanying the main characters. What is perhaps incidental (or probably intended on the writer's part) is that most of these tend to be Red Martians.
  • Remember the New Guy: Ras Thavas, who was a major character from Synthetic Men of Mars, is brought up during the second volume with Carter being very familiar with his past deeds, despite him never been mentioned in the past, nor the book being adapted in comic book format in any way.
  • Royal Harem: Salensus Oll has one with fourteen concubines and adds Dejah, Thuvia and Phaidor to them. Said harem would later play an important part as witnesses of a conspiracy to destroy the Green People during Savage of Mars.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: An ancient, vengeful, Nigh Invulnerable White Martian spirit is freed from Helium's Red Spire and unleashes catastrophic devastation in the form of Tardos Mors.
  • Ship Tease: An attraction between Carthoris and Linea is hinted mixed with some intense UST. It ends in tears when she dies.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Something Only They Would Say: When Tardos Mors mysteriously returns to Helium after having died in Okar, he recounts an riding incident that Dejah had as a child that only they remember, confirming his identity. Turns out that is not truly Tardos, but an very ancient, very evil Orovar spirit that took his appearance and was able to pick up her thoughts while imprisoned.
  • Stop Worshipping Me: In Lords of Mars, Carter is venerated as a deity because of his godlike strength and fighting prowess among the Martians. Having recently toppled the reign of Issus and seen the horrors perpetrated by it, he is not fond at all of being seen as a god too.
    • When Linea's heritage is revealed as Issus's granddaughter, she is immediately revered by the First-Born as the new goddess and she also doesn't appreciate it. Although with her last breath, she gives her first and only commandment to her people to stop the war with the Red Martians and make peace.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Tardos Mors returns to life without any explanation inside the Red Spire of Helium, while he was thought to have died far away in the North Pole. Turns out that is a double created by the White Martian spirit Xerius to take control of Barsoom. This trope is played yet again straight when Tardos is seen alive again in Dejah of Mars, despite the one we saw previously was confirmed to be a copy and the real one died long ago.
  • You're Not My Father: Dejah Thoris disowns her believed-to-be-deceased grandfather when he declares his intent to raise an army to conquer their planet and crush all those who oppose him. Its revealed that this is actually a clone created by an entity to take his place, and the real one is truly dead.

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